By Maria Arnt | A 4-minute read.
November has ended, and so has National Novel Writing Month. Maybe you made it to 50,000 words, maybe you didn’t. Maybe you set some other goal that you achieved. No matter what, as long as you did something, you still have more words written than you did in October, and that’s something to be proud of.
But now that all the fun and stress of cranking out so much writing is over, you may be wondering how to go from 50k words strung together to something you can sell. Here is a step by step guide to getting your manuscript ready to publish!
1. Finish W
riting the Book
For most genres, 50,000 words do not a complete book make. Some exceptions would be Middle-Grade chapter books or a particularly short YA novel. So the first thing you’ll need to do is finish fleshing out your book. Check out other titles in your genre to see what the expected word count is, and set that as your new goal.
2. Get a Second Opinion
Once you have your first draft completed, it’s time to get some input. Writing can often feel like shouting words into the
Non-writers will be better at looking at how the book is working for
Because NaNoWriMo is so popular among authors, there are a plethora of other people in your exact same situation, particularly in January & February. There are many Facebook groups and websites designed around helping writers connect so that they can trade manuscripts for critiques.
3. Be Patient
The review & critique process takes time. People lead busy lives, and reading your book may not be a priority for them. In addition, it’s important that you give yourself space from the book so that when you get to the revision stage, you can look at it with fresh eyes. If you hate sitting around and waiting, start writing another book. You can revise the first one while you’re waiting for reviews on the second.
4. Take Your Friends’ Advice
Once you have your critiques back, it’s time to revise and rewrite. I’m a big fan of literal rewriting, that is, having my first draft visible and actually re-typing the entire thing into a new document. This used to be a natural part of the book-writing process
There are two reasons I don’t do that. First, it’s a lot harder to miss things when you have to physically re-type each word. You may even find places that weren’t necessarily “wrong” the first time around, but you think of a better or more artful way to say it the second time around. The second is that sometimes you may cut something and then later wish you hadn’t. By preserving your first draft in its own document, you can always go back and copy the old into the new. designed to solve this second problem by taking snapshots of your drafts, like Scrivener, but they don’t solve the first issue.
If your rewrite was particularly extreme, you may want to go through the critique process again. Do try to get at least one of your previous reviewers to read it again, especially if a lot of the major changes were made at their advice. But also try to get fresh eyes and new opinions – if you’re getting the same critiques, what you changed may not have been enough to correct the problems. If you find that people aren’t finishing the book or say “it just wasn’t that interesting,” check out my earlier blog on how to fix that too.
6. Make It Shiny
Once you’ve rewritten the book to a point that it’s as good as it’s going to get (and remember, it’s never going to be perfect, you have to stop somewhere!) it’s time to polish it. This means going through it with a fine-tooth comb and looking for any technical errors. You can use software like Grammarly to help you, but keep in mind that these programs are AI and aren’t always right. They’re great for picking up on things you missed, but they may flag items that aren’t a problem. Be sure to use your best judgment, and don’t be afraid to Google a grammar rule you don’t remember from way back in school.
Your book is now ready to send to a publisher – now you have to decide how you want to publish it. For a more in-depth look on getting your book ready for publishing and a step-by-step guide to the publishing process, you can download my book Publishing Tools: Stepping Stones to Success for free here:
Or, if you’d rather chat with a human being, I’m happy to help you out. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or schedule a free appointment to talk with me over the phone here: